MELBOURNE, Australia — Victoria Azarenka advanced to the Australian Open quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Elena Vesnina today, growing more confident she can get back on course for a repeat of the winning roll that netted her a first Grand Slam title here last year.
“It’s getting there ... with every match you start building up for the top battles starting now," said Azarenka, who only needed 57 minutes to beat the 47th-ranked Vesnina. “It’s really exciting to be again so far in the tournament."
Azarenka started last season with a 26-match winning streak, including a lopsided victory over Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open final.
She moved to No. 1 in the rankings with that win and has remained there for all but a few weeks.
But she needs to defend her Australian title to hold the top spot from French Open champion Sharapova or Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon, the London Olympics and U.S. Open titles.
Next up for Azarenka is a quarterfinal against Svetlana Kuznetsova, who entered the season’s first major ranked No. 75 but has won titles at the 2004 U.S. Open and 2009 French Open.
Kuznetsova was given a time warning for taking too long during a changeover in her 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 win earlier today over former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, but said it didn’t bother her.
As for Wozniacki, after twice failing to win her breakthrough major as the No. 1-ranked woman at the Australian Open, she is now expected to drop out of the top 10 after a fourth-round loss that follows back-to-back first-round exits at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
On the men’s side, Frenchman Jeremy Chardy followed up his upset win over Juan Martin del Potro by ousting another seeded player in the fourth round, beating No. 21 Andreas Seppi 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 today.
Play on Day 7 ran into Day 8 overnight, when Novak Djokovic needed just over 5 hours to beat Stanislas Wawrinka 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 12-10 in a fourth-round match Sunday night, on the same court where he needed 5:53 to beat Rafael Nadal in last year’s final.
Djokovic will next play No. 5 Tomas Berdych, who beat South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (13).
Fourth-seeded David Ferrer advanced 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 over No. 16 Kei Nishikori of Japan to set up a quarterfinal against fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.